The recent spread of the Zika virus has been hard to miss due to its significant presence on major news outlets and the general concerns it has been causing across Latin America. However, partly as a result of the attention the virus has received in the news, it can be difficult to understand what exactly we know about it and how it can affect us.
Read on to learn more about what the Zika virus is and what it means for egg and sperm donations.
What is Zika?
The illness seldom causes those affected to seek medical attention and even more rarely causes death, leading those with the disease to often not even realise they have been infected. The Zika virus disease is caused by the virus of the same name, which is spread primarily through mosquito bites from infected Aedes mosquitos. The actual Zika disease causes mild symptoms, including fever, red eyes, sore joints and rash and usually only lasts a few weeks.
So if the disease itself is not extremely dangerous for those who contract it, why is its spread causing global concern? The Zika virus can be contracted from pregnant mothers to their foetuses and has been linked to a brain birth defect called microcephaly. The link between Zika and microcephaly, in addition to other birth deformities, has not been completely determined, but there is growing evidence to suggest that the link exists.
What does this have to do with sperm and egg donation?
While Zika is known to be transmitted by mosquitos, it is also thought to be spread through semen. Scientists don’t know whether it can also be sexually transmitted from females but the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is recommending that anyone returning from Zika-affected areas should refrain from donating eggs or sperm, trying to conceive naturally, or going ahead with fertility treatments for 28 days after returning.
Due to the potential risk that Zika can be sexually transmitted, along with the virus’ link to birth defects, Repromed takes this situation very seriously. We have strict screening procedures in place for egg and sperm donors to determine possibly affected zones they might have recently visited and/or whether they have recently had sexual intercourse with anyone who has visited Zika affected areas.
We are also monitoring the situation closely through the Fertility Society of Australia. Should you have any concerns or questions about Zika and how it affects fertility treatment please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Repromed.